The Facts About Concussions

First and foremost, there are many myths about concussions that we want to address before diving into what happens in the brain. 

1. You DO NOT need to lose consciousness in order to have a concussion.
2. Symptoms from a concussion are not always immediate.
3. Helmets do not prevent concussions.
4. Concussion rates for boys are NOT higher than girls.
5. When your obvious symptoms are gone it does not mean the concussion is healed.
6. Baseline testing, such as IMPACT testing, is not always an appropriate measure for return to play.
7. You do not need to be hit in the head to sustain a concussion.
8. All concussion symptoms are NOT the same.
9. Rest is not always the best treatment for a concussion.
10. You do not need to be playing a sport to sustain a concussion.

If you or a loved one suspect a concussion it is necessary to seek a physician’s opinion for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan. Do not try to navigate this condition on your own. An immediate evaluation can aid in reducing symptoms, reduced recovery time, preventing post concussion syndrome and a more appropriate return to play protocol.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is derived from the latin word “concutere” or to shake violently. A concussion results from movement of the brain inside the skull. As we know, the brain is not fixated in the skull but floating in cerebral spinal fluid. When a concussion is sustained the brain is shaken inside the skull, there can be impact between the brain and the skull itself as well as twisting of the brainstem stem, not unlike the ringing out of a wet towel. Both of these scenarios can cause a concussion as well as a TBI.
When a concussion is sustained immediate symptoms vary and you may feel completely fine, other than knowing you got a little “rattled”, to losing consciousness. One is not always worse than the other. Typically, if you lose consciousness the injury is more severe, however; when you have less of an impact and fewer immediate symptoms most tend not to seek medical advice or treatment and the concussion goes untreated, leaving the person at a greater risk for post concussion syndrome (PCS). PCS can cause debilitating symptoms down the road, which is why it is always advised to seek medical advice after an injury that may have resulted in a concussion.
Concussion symptoms fall into four major categories:
Somatic: headache, nausea, vomiting, balance problems, visual disturbances, dizziness, sensitivity to light, sound or smell
Emotional: depression, changes in personality, nervousness, anxiety, irritability
Sleep disturbance: changes in sleep patterns, sleeping more or less than usual, trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, insomnia.
Cognitive: difficulty concentrating, making decisions, carry out to-do lists, slowness in processing and speech, brain fog.